The Year I Learn to Garden

Many of my dad’s earliest and fondest memories were of time spent tending the garden with his grandfather. Gardening gave him a sense of connection: to his grandfather, to the earth, and to the Creator.

Dad in his garden

As far back as I can remember, I saw him in the garden: tilling, hoeing, planting. Sometimes I helped, like that spring when I was two years old and had so much fun planting corn that it showed up in houseplants, by the mailbox… everywhere my two-year-old self could think of!

I’ve never really learned to garden well. It’s been a half-hearted hobby, something I did lazily, but couldn’t seem not to do because it’s in my blood. Dad was my go-to gardening resource, and many of our conversations over the years were about peach trees and tomato plants and blueberry bushes and hot peppers and tillers and tools.

piggyback with Dad

I cannot think of gardening without thinking of my dad, and last year, after losing him a few weeks before spring began, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t even weed my flower beds, much less try to grow a vegetable garden.

But this year, I will learn to garden.

I will research…

  • how to build a compost bin, and how to make good compost.
  • how to plan a vegetable garden, and which plants need what.
  • when and how to grow lettuce, carrots, maybe even a potted avocado tree.
  • how to can/preserve what I do successfully grow.
  • how to keep bunnies (and the dog!) out of the veggie garden.
  • how to conquer black spot on my roses.
  • how to care for my peach tree, and keep pests off of it.

honeybee on peach blossoms

I will…

  • take better care of my garden tools and maybe invest in new ones.
  • get the kids involved and learning along with me.
  • be more diligent in tackling weeds before they take over the whole garden.
  • do all those things I already know to do but am often just too lazy to do.

There’s no way I’ll learn/do ALL of this in just one growing season, but I’ll start. Along the way, I’ll make notes of what else I need to learn, of what works and what doesn’t, of what I enjoy growing and what I don’t. Eventually I hope to become a Master Gardener, but that may have to wait a few years.

And when they are grown, I hope my kids will have fond memories of me in the garden, and maybe they’ll pass on the delight of gardening to their own children.